Hindus of the West Midlands Diwali Special
For the West Midlands, Diwali 2020 will have a special significance – it was truly light and hope in unity. The Hindus of West Midlands have wonderfully illustrated what can be achieved when the community is united. They just did not talk about it but acted during the time of the great festivities.
People all around the country have been frustrated with the isolation put upon them due to the pandemic. People have a right to complain, especially when they cannot be together in times of special festivities. The Muslim community missed out during Ramadan, and now the Hindus have had to curtail their festivities during Diwali.
People continue to be frustrated and pray that things will improve. In the long term it will, especially with the chances of a vaccine ready for a roll out. But what about now? A group of faith leaders in the West Midlands decided that the community must come together during the special time of Diwali but not at the expense of breaking the law or putting people’s lives at risk.
In fact, they did much better. For the first time in the region, 26 temples and community organisations got together – united - and work as a single entity to bring Diwali as an event to the masses – virtually!
With the Hindu community nearly 900,000 strong in the UK, it has strong roots in the West Midlands, where they account for around eighty thousand strong. Without the pandemic, most of the organisations would have organised their own Diwali events and continued with the festivities like they do every year.
But when there were truly the forces of darkness residing, the symbol of Diwali prevailed. God does work in mysterious ways, and the light did shine over the darkness of the pandemic.
The idea was simple yet effective. Each group had to provide video footage illustrating how they celebrated Diwali during the pandemic. And by the groups agreeing to participate, they had to publicly show that they were following Government restriction guidelines during the lockdown. So, by working together, the faith groups were setting standards that they may not have followed individually or as stringently.
Not only did 26 groups managed to work together, but it was an exercise in volunteering with so many people working to deliver the content.
The plan was to bring all the content together into a single programme and broadcast it on now the familiar Zoom platform. Although the programme was recorded, people wanted to come together and not only watch the programme but watch each other – it really was an example of families sitting together, coming together and spending quality time together on a mass scale.
Within the first three minutes of the Zoom broadcast, the viewer numbers shot up to over 500 and could have easily doubled if there were no limits on the numbers. There was also a simultaneous broadcast on Facebook which attracted another few thousand people.
Hence, from the limitations of a Government lockdown, a group of people came together and achieved the following:
- They illustrated that light could come over darkness with a little bit of creativity.
- An example of unity and how working together we can achieve much more than working individually.
- Volunteerism is a special gift, and Diwali helped to bring about diverse skills and experiences together to achieve a common goal.
- Helped to provide cultural and religious activities for the local community, which helps to bring people together and helps reduce isolation and loneliness.
- Highlighted the rich cultural and religious heritage of Hinduism, giving opportunities, especially to children to show their talent.
- Set a new precedent in building confidence to produce bigger events in the future when people are united.